Now that school is starting back up again many of my mommy friends are slightly worried, OK freaking out, about how they are going to make it to school on time every morning. This is especially true of my SAHM friends with first time Kindergarteners and several younger siblings. I know getting everyone up and ready in a timely fashion can be tricky. This year I’ll have a First Grader and a Preschooler both attending different public schools along with a nearly one year old baby. My oldest has to be in her class at 7:45, and the bus comes to pick up my son at 6:30. Oh, and did I mention I use public transportation? That’s right, if I am running just a minute or two behind I can miss my bus, guaranteeing my oldest daughter will be at least 25 minutes late to class. With strict tardiness policies being handed down by schools these days I cannot afford to be late. How do I do it? Well I have a few strategies to get organized so you too can get your kids to school on time with minimal stress.
Step 1: Hang Clothes Out & Pack Bags The Night Before
I get everything I possibly can ready the night before. I make sure homework is done, and bags are packed sitting ready by the door. I also pack lunches the night before, and leave them unzipped in the refrigerator. I have sandwich boxes on the counter ready so all I have to do in the morning is quickly throw the sandwiches together, and put it in the lunchbox. I have a staging area in my upstairs hall way that has a 3M Command Hook with each of my children’s names above them. I pick out, iron, and hang their clothes here ready for the next morning. I even include things like socks and hair bows. This way there is no fighting or searching for things in the morning. I usually let my kids pick between two or three “mommy approved” outfits to hang on the wall. If you wanted to let your kids pick their entire outfit, and hang it on the hook themselves that would work too. As long as everything is ready the night before. Of course if you don’t want hall way hooks a hook in each child’s bedroom works just as well.
Step 2: Have A Dedicated Spot For Keys, Bags, Shoes, & Coats
You don’t want to waste precious time searching for these things in the morning. I have some hooks, and some cubbies by my front door that serve this purpose. My keys, wallet, and cell phone are ALWAYS there. I also have coats, shoes, and bags there for quick last minute grabbing in the morning. Pinterest has some very cute and practical ways of using an entryway closet for this purpose. Another really cute idea is to hang some canvas bags with each family member’s name on them from hooks or an inexpensive decorative curtain rod. Add some cubby shelves below for cute, reasonably priced, and functional organization. This is a cute entryway from Young House Love.
Step 3: Have A Predictable Morning & Evening Routine
My kids know that when they wake up they are to go potty, wash hands, get dressed, come down stairs to eat breakfast, clear the table, and brush their teeth. They also know that when they get home from school or sports they get 30 minutes of free time, do homework, eat dinner, brush teeth, take bath, read with mommy, Bible memory verse, prayers, and bed by 8:15. Of course your routine will be different depending on what is going on in your family. The point is that my kids know what to do, and what to expect. They also know that if they are efficient in the morning they have about 15 extra minutes to watch TV or play on the computer. Likewise, if they mess around and spend too much time say brushing their teeth then they go straight to school. I love this set-up that was featured on TipJunkie.com!
Learning a morning routine and time management is difficult for young children. Try making a visual schedule chart to help them know what they need to do, and in what order. These are simple boards that show pictures of what they need to do in order from top to bottom. They can either check off (think stickers) each completed task, or move the pictures into a “finished” basket. There are countless ways to make one, and lots of free clip art available online. You may want to use a timer in the beginning so that your kids get an idea of how much time they should spend on each task.
Change is hard on everyone, and children need time to get used to the new routine. They may need time to learn some new skills like brushing their hair or dressing themselves. Also, their little bodies need time to adjust to the new sleep and wake up times. Plus, there are bound to be some things that didn’t work out like you planned. You will need a couple of days to work out the kinks in your routine. A two to three week head start will give you the best chance of having a smooth routine on the first day of school.
Step 5: Remember, Promptness Over Perfection
Be sure you discuss with your child the importance of being on time every day, and that the car will leave the driveway the same time each morning. After a month or so of practice if they mess around and spend too much time say brushing their teeth then maybe they won’t have time to eat breakfast that morning. Or if they cannot find their favorite shoes because they failed to put them in the shoe cubby maybe they have to wear an older less desirable pair that day. Skipping one meal or leaving the house with mismatched shoes won’t scar them for life, but it will teach them that you mean business, and will not allow them to make you late. It also teaches them to be responsible for their own choices. These lessons are much easier to teach at 4, 5, and 6 than at 14, 15, and 16.
Having said that be sure to set them up for success. Be consistent, and have clear expectations. Buy clothes that they like, and are easy to put on themselves. Be patient and problem solve. For example, if your kids are spending too much time brushing their teeth because they are playing in the mirror have them brush their teeth in the kitchen sink instead. Maybe reward them for being on time every day with extra media time, extra bedtime books, or a trip to the park on the weekend. This will all take some effort on your part in the beginning, but it will be well worth it to have stress less and on time mornings during this school year.